No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Marta Blades: Songs from the Broadway Stage

March 16, 2015

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Marta Blades: Songs from the Broadway Stage

The actual reason for my visit to North Carolina was not to attend basketball games, cosplay conventions or hang out in microbreweries but to see my lovely mother and attend her art opening for her latest artwork called “Songs from the Broadway Stage” at Willow’s restaurant. 

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It was yet another in a line of wonderful art exhibits featuring Marta’s artwork, this exhibit was held at Willow’s restaurant and Marta had to get the whole thing set-up and hung on Saturday morning prior to the restaurant being opened for lunch. Thankfully she had a lot of assistance from the show’s curator Ashley- who did a wonderful job, to a friend who helped her actually hand the work to my sister Marika and her husband Brian.

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There was so much help that I did not really even need to be on hand so I decided to participate in the Pink Heals 5K walk/run to benefit cancer patients in the triad area. The race was held through a very hilly residential neighborhood of Winston-Salem and it was pretty cold and with a moderate to heavy drizzle for most of the race. I was not deterred and finished the race, cold, soaked and happy that it was over but happy as well to help support a local cause. I like to do that when I visit places as well to give back a little something to the community.

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The weekend gave me a wonderful opportunity to spend some quality family time with my mother, sister and brother-in-law. We spent our spare time eating out, going to see the movie Mr. Turner which I will review with a single grunt, Ugghhhh. Marta and I even spent a bit of time in nearby Old Salem which is only a short walk from her condo. I even attempted to bond with her beloved dog, Jack who seems to have gotten more wary and protective as time has passed.

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The art show itself was a huge success. A large crowd of Marta’s friends and fans turned out to celebrate this latest collection of artwork. It was doubly enjoyable for me in that I not only got to enjoy the well-deserved attention that was being lavished upon her, but I also got to meet ( and see again) many of her friends who she has made in Winston-Salem. It was such a wonderful, nice and supportive group and I was thrilled to gain a little insight in to the people who she interacts with on a day to day basis.

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To say that I am proud of my mother would be a gross understatement and never give her enough credit for all that she has and continues to accomplish. Her artwork brings her immense pleasure and it was so great to see others share in the joy she feels in creating it, and it is pretty popular to boot as sales at the show were fantastic, so it was a win all around.

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Most importantly it was an occasion that helped emphasize to me once again the importance of family and good friends. Thanks so much to everyone that came out, to everyone who has supported Marta in Winston-Salem and beyond.  

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Sunday, March 22, 2015


March 15, 2015

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It has been over a year since I have seen my mother, and it was high time that I arranged a visit to her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She is an artist and the occasion of the opening of her current art exhibition gave me the impetus to arrange a trip, where I could see her as well as my sister Marika and brother-in-law Brian. Of course the main reason for the trip was to see and visit with my family, but as I usually do when I travel, I also try to get out and explore the community that I am visiting and I had some good opportunities to do so on this trip.

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When I stepped off the plane at the Greensboro airport, it became evident at once that there was a major event going on in town. The crowd of college-gear clad fans and huge signs welcoming ACC fans clued me in right away that the ACC Basketball tournament was taking place in town and I made a mental note to see if I could fit a session in to my schedule.

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Luckily I was able to squeeze in the Friday evening semifinal games at the Greensboro Coliseum and caught two games featuring four of the best college basketball teams in America. The first game featured # 5 seeded North Carolina vs. #1 seed Virginia. It was a great game with UNC jumping out early and Virginia making a furious comeback to take the lead only to fall short at the end with UNC claiming a 71-67 victory.

Game two followed a similar pattern with #3 seed Notre Dame beating #2 seed Duke 74-64 in another minor upset. Both were fantastic games and though I missed Notre Dame claiming the ACC Championship on Saturday night by beating UNC 90-82, I really enjoyed the games and the fanfest that was held in conjunction with the tournament.

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After the game I ventured downtown to a brewpub called Natty Green’s with the guys who I bought my ticket from, who were from Syracuse, New York. I always enjoy visiting local brewpubs when in a different town and this trip was no exception. In addition to Natty Greeen’s I also visited Foothills Brewery in Winston as well as the newer Small Batch Brewing.

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While sitting in the corner booth at Small Batch, I kept noticing large groups of costumed mostly young people wondering by. It looked similar to the outfits worn at a comicbook convention I went to last year in Austin and I was determined to check it out and see what was going on.

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I traced the costumed characters back to a pair of large hotels which were hosting a Cosplay convention. I had a notion to what Cosplay is all about. Cosplay is a combination of the words costume play, is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character or idea. Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture centered on role play and a broader use of the term "cosplay" applies to any costumed role play in venues apart from the stage.

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It was a wild scene and I crashed the convention by just walking by with authority with my camera and avoided the $60 entrance fee, It was fun to see so many interesting and creative young people, it is not something I would probably be in to, but they seemed to be having a great time. There were rooms filled with vendors hawking costumes and accessories as well as conference rooms where games were being conducted- none of which I understood, but fascinating nonetheless. The costumes were intricate and amazing and the participants all seemed fairly nice and normal. Not being in costume it was I who was really out of place and I was thankful to have my camera that allowed me access and to blend in somewhat. They certainly did not mind posing for photographs, which I guess is understandable if you go to all the time and trouble to create such intricate costumes.

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